How to support someone with an eating disorder
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If someone close to you is being treated for ED you probably want to help – here’s how


two women sit on chairs facing each other. AN older woman holds the younger womans hand compassionately After working as an Eating Disorder Dietitian for a number of years, there is one area that we don’t talk about enough. That is how to help caretakers, friends, and loved ones support someone with an eating disorder.


Witnessing anyone you care about struggle with an eating disorder can be heart breaking. You may feel that you don’t know what to say or maybe you worry that you will make it worse. So today I wanted to share a few tips to help get you started.

If you’re looking for more support, learn more about Caregivers United, an online program designed especially for parents, partners, and loved ones supporting a loved one with an eating disorder.

Top tips for supporting someone with an eating disorder:


1. Be compassionate


You have noticed that something is off with the person that you care about. You may have noticed their eating habits have changed, that they seem a bit muted or just not like themselves, or maybe you have even seen some physical signs that they are unwell.


Please don’t avoid saying something, however, do avoid commenting on their food or their body.


Try this: “You have seemed a bit down / off/ not yourself lately, I just want you to know that I am here if you want to talk about it”


2. Be Curious


Your loved one is the expert in how they want to be supported, so let them guide you. Eating disorders are about so much more than just the food. While you may never truly understand what your loved one is going through, you don’t have to, you just have to let them know that you are there for them and are open to hearing more about what they are going through without trying to fix it.


It is okay to ask someone to explain more about how they are feeling or if there are ways that you can support them. Remember, sometimes it is helpful to just be there to support someone with an eating disorder, whether they want to talk about it or not. Let them know that they are not alone in this.



3. Don’t try to debate with the eating disorder


When your loved one is battling to recover from an eating disorder, they very likely know what they “need” to do when it comes to food and food-related behaviours. If they don’t, help them build a team of experts around them to support them through this. Either way, trust that they are trying and doing their very best to recover. What may seem like a simple change or an easy step to you, could be very hard and anxiety producing for them.


As a support person, your job is not to teach. And to be honest, if the eating disorder is powerful that day, it could be very hard for that person to hear what you have to say anyways. So instead of trying to use logic to reason with the eating disorder, or asking them why, try to see that they are working hard and commend them for this. Acknowledge that you can see they are doing their best to battle this. Ask them if there is anything big or small you can do to help them. Also ask them if there is anything you wish people would NOT do or say as sometimes you will learn more from this question than anything.


4. Do not comment on their food, their body, your food, your body, or anyone else’s food or body.


Unless you loved one has specifically asked you to talk about food with them, try to take the conversation anywhere else. Topics can include the weather, a funny story from the day, something exciting you are looking forward to, or really, anything except food and body talk.


If you are struggling to support someone you care about who is struggling with an eating disorder, please, reach out to a Registered Dietitian, Counsellor, and/or Registered Psychologist who specializes in the area.


Looking for an Eating Disorder Dietitian that “gets it”? We can help.


If you are seeking support for an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, ARFID or disordered eating behavior we can help.


We have Eating Disorder Dietitians on our team that can help provide you with the confidential supportive care to meet you where you are at and work with you to progress recovery at a pace you can manage.


We also work collaboratively with your physician and therapist to ensure we are helping to move you forward with the right type of support needed to assist you.


Find out more about our Eating Disorder Dietitian services here.

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"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
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Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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